Pentagon gives Obama copy of Afghan troop increase request

11:27, October 08, 2009      

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The Pentagon said Wednesday that it has sent U.S. President Barack Obama a copy of top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal's request for a large increase of U.S. troop levels in that country.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters at a regular press briefing at the Department of Defense that what Obama received is an "informal copy," and the Pentagon is refining the request before formally submitting it to the president.

The president got the copy late last week and several top administration officials obtained copies of McChrystal's request on Monday.

Meanwhile, the White House said Obama and his top advisors could discuss the request as early as Friday.

Washington is currently split on the future direction of the Afghan strategy, including whether to send more troops to that country.

On one hand, top military leaders and Republicans are pressing Obama to act quickly to increase the present 68,000-troop level in Afghanistan by some 40,000 as requested by McChrystal.

Meanwhile, senior White House advisors are reportedly pushing back the request for sending large number of additional troops to Afghanistan, saying that the United States should instead focus on faster military training of Afghan forces, assassinations of al-Qaida leaders and support for the government of neighboring Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban.

Obama told congressional leaders on Tuesday that he hasn't decided on troop levels, but ruled out deep cuts into U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.

He also made it clear that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan would not be narrowed down to just hunting al-Qaida leaders.

Source: Xinhua
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